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A Very Long Engagement (2004)
Never let go.
Filmmaker(s): Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Young Frenchwoman Mathilde searches for the truth about her missing fiancé, lost during World War I, and learns many unexpected things along the way. The love of her life is gone. But she refuses to believe he's gone forever — and she needs to know for sure.

A Very Long Engagement (2004)


One of the hardest things in the world is to stop when you know you should, but the attraction, the romance of your obsession pulls you deeper and deeper into the thing. It happens with big things like love and little things like this film.

It is so lovely and rich I want to live in it forever. It is like that magically seductive stranger you glance on the street with whom you imagine a dreamy technicolor life. Perhaps you even chat and her charms set hooks that you carry about for some time.

With some distance you realise that the engagement was in the seduction alone.

Here we have a tale, a simple tale of a woman with few options, lucky enough to have a lover. We learn many of the romantic elements that he carries in such a way that they stay even when he is gone. Her love is as strong, stronger in his absence because she can reweave those lush romantic images nightly.

And here we have a film constructed the same way. It is so lovely, so romantic that it entices us. It teases our appetite for visual beauty. As with “Sex and Lucia”, and “Happy Together” the poles of emotion are symbolised by lighthouse and a holes in the earth, and these poles are played for all their attractions.

Even the war scenes are so lovingly crafted. We can feel the horror but at the same time willingly invite ourselves deeper because the romantic enfolding is so seductive.

At the end, you feel like you have consumed an entire box of rare chocolates, each one a world, a vamp.

But there’s no nourishment here. In “Amelie” there was. It was worth putting yourself through the thing because it was a small love that rewarded back hugely. All that business about the mystery of the image and self-reference. You loved, you grew.

Here, you feel as if you have wasted your best loves on the delicate fantasies of passing strangers and received nothing. Nothing at all.

Posted in 2005

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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